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The Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act (UEVHPA)
As noted during the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, and many other emergencies in the nation's history, volunteer health practitioners are essential to meeting surge capacity in public and private sectors. Underlying the successful deployment and use of volunteer health practitioners during emergencies is the need for a legal environment that supports their efforts. However, there are major legal gaps and deficiencies that may stymie, rather than encourage, volunteer health practitioner activities during emergencies. Following Katrina, the U.S. Congress introduced several bills to address some of these gaps since September, 2005.
Many state governments have recognized the need to grant emergency licensing recognition on an interstate basis and to afford disaster relief workers (which may include volunteer health practitioners) with protection from civil liability. Every state has ratified the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), which provides for licensing reciprocity, relief from civil liability, and workers’ compensation protections to “state forces” deployed to respond to emergencies. The provisions of EMAC, however, are limited. In most jurisdictions, EMAC's provisions only apply to state employees or local employees incorporated into “state forces” pursuant to mutual aid agreements. Many state laws underlying the declaration of public health emergencies (including many recently enacted laws based on the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act developed by the Centers in 2001) recognize interstate health licensure or provide broad authority to waive other legal or regulatory requirements during emergencies.
There is, however, no uniform system exists to efficiently and expeditiously recognize licensing privileges for health practitioners on an interstate basis. The lack of a uniform, well-understood system able to function automatically even during periods of emergencies when communications systems are disrupted and governmental officials are preoccupied with pressing responsibilities.
Developed by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC), the Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act (UEVHPA) provides uniform legislative language to facilitate organized response efforts among volunteer health practitioners.
UEVHPA’s provisions include:
the 2007 annual
ULC conference in
For more information about the Act and its legislative activity, please see www.uevhpa.org, and additional references below:
Hall, Mimi. States seek to cut disaster red tape. USA Today, October 9, 2007 @ A1.
Hodge, JG , Pepe RP, Henning, WH. Voluntarism in the wake of hurricane Katrina: The Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act. Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness 2007; 1:1: 44-50.
“New law allows medical
workers to aid victims of disasters in other states”
-Lexington Herald-Leader (03/31/07) - K
Interview with James G. Hodge, Jr. by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health